Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree: A Book about Nothing

Overview

It's easy to count three of something-- just add them up. But how do you count zero, a number that is best defined by what it's not?

Can you see it?
Can you hear it?
Can you feel it?

This important math concept is beautifully explored in a way that will inspire children to find zero everywhere--from the branches of a tree by day to the vast,...

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Overview

It's easy to count three of something-- just add them up. But how do you count zero, a number that is best defined by what it's not?

Can you see it?
Can you hear it?
Can you feel it?

This important math concept is beautifully explored in a way that will inspire children to find zero everywhere--from the branches of a tree by day to the vast, starry sky by night.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Picture books about numbers typically go from one up to 10. The idea of zero may be a bit more abstract, but this picture book communicates the concept in child-friendly terms: “Zero is . . . the balls in the bin at recess time. 0 balls,” or “. . . the sound of snowflakes landing on your mitten. 0 sounds,” or “the kites in the sky once the wind stops blowing. 0 kites.”...Nicely composed and often quiet in tone, Arihara’s gouache paintings illustrate those images with sensitivity.—Booklist magazine

How exactly do you define zero? Franco’s thought-provoking meditations challenge readers to move beyond conventional school-taught facts (it’s a number; it’s egg-shaped) to poetic observations about zero outside the classroom via a tour of the seasons....Cleverly upending the notion that zero amounts to nothing, the book reveals instead that zero is an absence that is observable, countable, and meaningful. —The Horn Book Review

Children's Literature - Debby Willett
Counting from one to ten is a concept easily taught to children because they can handle the items to count: balls, pencils, marbles, and many other things. However, the concept of counting to zero is not so easily taught. How do children touch a zero? This book shows children how to understand what a zero is through simple shapes, objects, and seasonal events. A few of the examples used are, when the snow has turned to slush, sleds cannot slide, the shape of an egg is a zero, or an empty ball bin on the recess playground. The sound snowflakes make when landing on mittens is a zero, an oak tree with no leaves in the cold of winter, and my favorite, the sound of stars filling the night sky. The soft, colorful illustrations tell a second story to the author's tale, and are fundamental to the children's enjoyment. Reviewer: Debby Willett
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—"Zero is...the sound of snowflakes landing on your mitten. 0 sounds." "Zero is...the kites in the sky once the wind stops blowing. 0 kites." Using these and other evocative examples from children's everyday experiences throughout the seasons, Franco explores the concept of zero. The gouache illustrations are done in soft, muted tones and have a naive charm that will have substantial child appeal. Most of the scenes are set outdoors, clearly depicting and emphasizing the book's link to the passing seasons. While the idea is a simple one, the presentation is such that it could easily be used to encourage youngsters to think of ways they could use any of their five senses to experience having zero of something. Like Franco's Mathematickles (S & S, 2006), this is another fine addition to the growing number of books that make math concepts both enjoyable and memorable.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired poetry and moving illustrations give zero, an abstract number that quantifies nothing, soulful meaning. Franco's meditative poetry challenges readers to consider zero a representative of things to come or just departed: the ripples in a pool before a swimmer leaps, the leaves on the branches of a bare winter tree. She grounds almost Buddhist ponderings with assuring, concrete final lines on opposing pages. These simple numerical statements (0 leaves, 0 ducks) give readers solid answers to the poetic equations. While some truly far-out lines such as, "Zero is... / the blossoms in the garden / just before the buds open," might boggle the minds of early readers, Arihana's warm illustrations and soft washes of color offer explanation. Atmospheric gouache paintings with slim foregrounds allow ample room for expansive skies, hills, ocean and stars. Hopeful, upward-looking perspectives-a little girl gazes up at a high nest, kids catch balls in the air, a group stargazes-conjure such dreamy openness that zero seems full of promise rather than absence. This original introduction to an often-overlooked number will convince children that nothing is really something! (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582462493
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/11/2009
  • Pages: 30
  • Sales rank: 693,962
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

BETSY FRANCO has written over eighty books for children and young adults, including picture books, poetry collections, and novels. Among her acclaimed math-themed titles are Mathematickles! and Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails. Betsy's feline poetry collection, A Curious Collection of Cats, was her first book with Tricycle Press. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Doug, and gets tremendous inspiration from her three creative sons.

SHINO ARIHARA is a graduate from the Art Center College of Design. Her work has appeared in LA Weekly, Seventeen, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe. Her first picture book, Ceci Ann's Day of Why, was published in 2006.

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Read an Excerpt

Zero is...
the shape of an egg.
Zero is a number.

Zero is . . .
the balls in the bin at recess time.
0 balls

Zero is . . .
the leaves on the bare,
brown arms of the oak tree.
0 leaves

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